No. 9 Kansas Awaits "Elite" Match with No. 1 USC
|No. 9 Kanas vs. No. 1 USC
San Diego, Calif.
Jenny Craig Pavilion
Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015
10:30 p.m. CT
The two teams that remained undefeated the longest during the regular season will meet for the first time late Saturday night for a chance to become one of the final four teams remaining the NCAA Championship. No. 1 seed Southern California and No. 9 seed Kansas began the season with 22- and 19-match winning streaks, respectively, on the road to tonight’s San Diego Regional Final.
First serve is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. PT / 10:30 p.m. CT at Jenny Craig Pavilion on the campus of the University of San Diego. The match will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
• ELITE: No. 9 Kansas is playing in its first-ever NCAA Championship Regional Final tonight.
• KANSAS IN THE NCAAs: Kansas is 8-6 in seven appearances in the NCAA Championship. A win on Saturday would be KU’s first appearance in an NCAA “Final Four.” Head coach Ray Bechard has coached all seven of KU’s NCAA tournament teams.
• KU-USC SERIES: Kansas and USC are meeting for the first time on Saturday. USC is the first Pac-12 opponent KU has faced since losing to then-No. 5 Washington in the NCAA Regional Semifinals on Dec. 13, 2013 in Los Angeles. The Jayhawks are 18-44 against Pac-12 schools, including a 15-35 mark against former Big 12 member Colorado. The last KU win against a Pac-12 team was over Arizona State on Sept. 7, 2012 in Lawrence (W, 3-1).
• SATURDAY NIGHT’S ALRIGHT: Kansas is 14-0 on Saturdays this season.
• HIGH OCTANE OFFENSE: Kansas has made its way to an unprecedented season behind one of the most productive offenses in the nation. KU is the only team that ranks top-5 nationally in hitting percentage (2nd), kills per set (2nd), and assists per set (2nd). Big 12 Setter of the Year Ainise Havili ranks second in the nation in assists per set (12.4). Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne is the only player to rank top-30 nationally in both hitting percentage (28th) and kills per set (17th). Havili and Payne led the Big 12 in assists per set and kills per set, respectively.
• BIG DEFENSE: Kansas is holding opponents to a .079 hitting percentage through three NCAA Championship matches. The Jayhawks entered postseason play with three matches where they held opponents to a hitting percentage under .100; during postseason play KU already has two, holding No. 25 Missouri to a .061 clip and Loyola Marymount to a .050 clip.
• BLOCK PARTY: KU is out-gaining its opponents in total blocks, 34.0 to 18.0. Kansas recorded a season-high 15 blocks on 26 block-assists and two solo blocks against Loyola Marymount on Friday. Tayler Soucie led with a team season-high 12 blocks. It set a KU record for total blocks in a four-set NCAA postseason match. The Jayhawks posted eight blocks in the second set alone against LMU.
• AGAINST THE FIELD: Kansas holds an 11-2 record against teams in the NCAA Championship. The Jayhawks boast 15.6 kills per set and 17.3 digs per set against teams that made the field of 64. Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne averages 5.0 kills per set against tournament teams, up from her overall season average of 4.4 kills per set.
• DOCKERY, SENIOR LEADER: Senior outside hitter Tiana Dockeryis 102-29 during her four-year career at Kansas, including a 6-3 mark in the NCAA Championship.
• PAYNE TRAIN: Sophomore right-side hitter Kelsie Payne has 456 total kills this season and needs just seven to pass Allison Mayfield (463) and set KU’s single-season kills record. Last night Payne posted 21 kills on .400 hitting percentage to set a KU record for kills in a four-set NCAA postseason match. It was here seventh 20-kill performance of the season.
• GREAT WALL OF SOUCIE: Junior middle blocker Tayler Soucie led KU’s front-line defense during last night’s win over Loyola Marymount with a season-high 12 blocks (11 BA, 1 BS). It marked the first double-figure blocks output by a Jayhawk this season. The back-to-back All-Big 12 First Team performer is averaging 2.1 blocks per set during the NCAA tournament.
• WAIT MOVING UP: With23 digs last night, junior libero Cassie Wait moved into fourth on KU’s career digs list (1,326), passing Adrian Powel (1988-91; 1,325). Last night’s performance marked her 10th 20-dig performance this season, including the fifth in the last nine matches.
• ELITE HOSTS: The Jayhawks are among seven elite programs to host the first and second rounds of the tournament in the last four seasons, joining Stanford, Penn State, Nebraska, Texas, Washington, and Florida.
• TOP 10: Kansas is ranked No. 9 in the current AVCA Coaches Poll. The poll does not update during the postseason. The Jayhawks have been ranked in the top-25 for a program-record 13-consecutive weeks, including nine-consecutive weeks in the top-10. KU reached a program-high No. 7 ranking on Oct. 19.